Norwegian Jade Ultimate Cruise Ship Review
11 Jun 2018
When you think of Norwegian Cruise Line, you probably picture their gigantic new modern ships such as Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Getaway, or Norwegian Escape, packed with adventurous activities such as rope courses and waterslides. So why would you want to cruise on a much smaller, older vessel such as Norwegian Jade which doesn’t have these features?
Well, it still feels like a ship and it’s small enough to get into some of the smaller ports of call in Europe. For seasoned cruisers, or Norwegian loyalists, you probably picture Norwegian Jade as a garish, floral and colourful vessel better suited to the 80s than modern times, even though the ship only launched in 2006 as the then named Pride of Hawaii (that name should explain the reason behind the former orange and pink floral décor). Thanks to the multi-million pound fleet-wide makeover programme called Norwegian Edge, Norwegian Cruise Line is working hard and investing an impressive amount of money to modernise its older ships and dispel those garish colour schemes from memory.
Norwegian Jade was recently refurbished back in 2017 just in time for her first season operating from the UK and she’s never looked so good – she’s like a new ship! At 94,000 tons and carrying 2,400 passengers, she is the perfect size for those who prefer sailing on a smaller vessel. But despite Norwegian Jade’s smaller size, she still packs in a lot of things to see and do.
Norwegian Cruise Line is largely considered a family cruise line, and that’s certainly the case on many itineraries in the Caribbean and Mediterranean, but you may be surprised to learn that for the most part on Norwegian Jade, the clientele are the opposite. The average age onboard is around 55, and on sailings from Southampton, guests are predominantly Americans and Asians with around 40% being British. On some sailings, such as to Iceland or the Baltic, there may be less than 60 children on the whole ship, so it’s certainly a cruise line to still consider if you are looking for a more mature cruise holiday.
A few years ago, Norwegian Cruise Line became a Premium All-Inclusive experience for the UK market. You may have seen an NCL cruise while searching for you next holiday and been put off by the price when comparing it to other similar itineraries with other cruise lines, but it’s important to remember what is now included with Norwegian Cruise Line. You’ll enjoy premium all-inclusive drinks, the most impressive choice of complimentary and speciality dining options at sea, award-winning entertainment, your gratuities included and 60 minutes of free Wi-Fi for each guest. On top of all of that, you get even more when you book a suite, such as an additional 250 minutes of free Wi-Fi, $50 onboard spend per person, and speciality dining included. It’s an added value experience that is worth more than £1200 per stateroom in total. Now when you next look at Norwegian’s pricing, you’ll see just how great value they really are!
The Haven complex is an exclusive area on Deck 14 on the ship. Home to just 13 spacious and luxuriously appointed suites, these come with butler service, private access to an exclusive sun deck and a courtyard featuring a pool with retractable roof perfect for enjoying in any weather, and the exclusive use of Cagney’s Steakhouse for breakfast and lunch. These impressive suites are ideal for those who usually sail with Norwegian’s sister brands Oceania Cruises or Regent Seven Seas Cruises and are perhaps looking to take their family away together, or for those who want excellent quality and luxury, but a more relaxed, casual and fun atmosphere onboard. The most impressive suites on Norwegian Jade are the two Garden Villas which have a gigantic two-storey balcony with a full size hot tub, as well as a piano, lobby area, dining table, and separate bedrooms for up to 8 people. With suites, the first two people will pay the standard price, but then anyone else will pay a reduced price, so it’s certainly an option to consider looking at if you are planning to travel in a large family group.
Norwegian Jade has a good proportion of Inside, Outside and Balcony accommodations, as well as several mini-suites. Which are slightly larger versions of the Balcony staterooms, but include a bathtub, as well as a few small additions. Staterooms are average-sized with a small sofa area and vanity table. Staterooms that can also sleep 3 or 4 people will feel very compact, with the balcony not accessible when the sofa is made into a bed and the pullman bed is lowered from the ceiling at night. There is a mixture of glass-fronted balconies and partially enclosed balconies, as well as variants of outside staterooms with various-sized windows and differing layouts. Those mid-aft on Deck 8 have a different configuration and seemed to offer slightly more space.
For a ship the size of Norwegian Jade, she features an impressive 15 dining outlets, 8 of which are complimentary. The Grand Pacific and Alizar are the two main dining rooms on the ship. The Grand Pacific is the larger of the two and has a stunning backdrop of the wake from the floor-to-ceiling windows. Norwegian Cruise Line operates a freestyle dining policy, where you have no set dining time, or seat assignment. You are free to dine at a time that suits you, which gives you more flexibility to try any of the dining options onboard. There is also no enforced dress code, so you can dress up or stay casual, depending on your preference. Both main dining rooms serve the same menu, with several dishes that remain the same on the menu each night, as well as a wide choice of dishes that change daily. One of the restaurants will also be open for a waiter-service breakfast or lunch – a much more pleasant and quieter experience to enjoy, especially on embarkation day. The Garden Café is the main buffet and situated on the starboard side of Deck 12. From a traditional carvery to sandwiches, salad, noodles and sweet desserts, there’s something tempting for everyone. At the back on Deck 12 is The Great Outdoors, a perfect place to enjoy an alfresco meal on a sunny day, with a bar and even a dedicated buffet serving area outside. O’Sheehan’s Neighbourhood Bar & Grilloccupies the second level of the main atrium and is a sports pub open 24 hours a day for beers, chicken wings, and burgers free of charge.
On the pool deck is The Pit Stop and Topsiders Bar & Grill, the ideal place for a poolside snack. Jasmine Garden Asian Restaurant is a complimentary venue serving authentic Asian cuisine. When it comes to speciality restaurants, Norwegian Jade has a diverse selection. Le Bistro is a traditional French brasserie featuring traditional French cuisine, such as escargot, scallops, mussels, and onion soup. The restaurant is beautifully decorated in golden colours and deep red fabrics. Veuve Clicquot is the featured champagne served. Le Bistro is a la carte and items are priced individually. Appetizers are around $5, soups and salads average at $4, main dishes are priced around $20 and desserts are approximately $4. Cagney’s Steakhouseserves juicy steaks up to 20oz that are cooked to perfection and again is priced a la carte. La Cucina is a traditional family Italian style restaurant serving antipasto, pizzas, pastas and seafood, priced a la carte. Moderno Churrascaria has a set cover charge of $24.95, which will allow you to enjoy the traditional Brazilian style of churrascaria service known as rodizio. Servers will come round the restaurant frequently and continue to carve you meat cut from a skewer until you turn over a little disk indicating that you have had enough. It’s a bit like an all you can eat buffet, except the food comes to you! It means you can try different cuts of meat such as beef tenderloin, sirloin, ribs, chorizo and chicken. Before your meal why not sit and relax in the stylish Sugarcane Mojito Bar and enjoy an authentic Brazilian cocktail?
For sushi lovers, you’ll be amazed at the choice on offer at the Sushi Bar & Teppanyakirestaurant. Named after the Japanese style of cooking you’ll experience, watch as the chefs prepare delicious meat, poultry, seafood and vegetables on an iron griddle known as Teppan, while expertly showing off with flare as they dice, slice and juggle ingredients! The Sushi Bar is a la carte with most items costing around $6. Teppanyaki has a cover charge of $29.95. The Atrium Café with The Bake Shop Treats is a speciality coffee shop with amazing cakes and macarons, and because it’s located in the heart of the atrium, it’s the perfect meet up point.
There are 11 bars and lounges onboard, all with a unique vibe. The Spinnaker Lounge comes alive in the evening with alternative entertainment to the main Stardust Theatre, such as game shows, trivia and musical performances and Norwegian’s signature White Hot Party (so don’t forget to pack a white outfit – you’ll be in for a treat!). In the day, this is an observation area and a quiet place to come sit and relax with panoramic views of the sea. The Bliss Ultra Lounge is a sparkling and swanky disco with several seating enclaves surrounded by a metallic mesh curtain. In terms of décor, you couldn’t get much further away from the tropical theming of the former Medusa Lounge that was once located here. It’s now completely unrecognisable and another testament to the amount of money spent of transforming Norwegian Jade.
In the middle of the expansive casino, where smoking is allowed, is the Jade Club Casino Bar. This 360 degree bar has a beautiful feel to it with traditional Chinese red hanging lanterns. On deck 6 are three separate specialty bars, as well as a cigar lounge. Whisky connoisseurs and ale fans will enjoy a tipple in the Tankards Beer & Whisky Bar, shake it up in Mixers Martini & Cocktail Bar, while the adjacent Magnum’s Bar is a refined place to sit and enjoy a glass of wine or champagne that opens up into a stunning two-deck-high atrium with beautiful stained glass panels on the ceiling and a grand staircase leading up to the Sake Bar which serves both Teppanyaki and the Jade Garden restaurants. Outside enjoy a poolside refreshment at the Topsiders Bar, or watch the world go by while taking in the sea air at The Great Outdoors Bar.
When it comes to entertainment, Norwegian Jade delivers. In addition to the many lounges where entertainment and live music takes place throughout the day, you’ll be able to enjoy a spectacular evening watching a magician, a comedian, or a colourful performance from the resident singers and dancers in the huge Stardust Theatre. For a little R&R, the Mandara Spais a haven of tranquillity. Or for those looking to stay active after all of the dining options available, head to the large Fitness Centre or giant Sports Court on top deck.
Kids will have a blast in the dedicated children’s clubs. Splash Academy is for those aged 3-12 and hosts craft sessions, discos, movie screenings, and fun games. Entourage is the teen hangout zone for those aged 13-17. They’ll enjoy listening to their favourite songs on the jukebox and playing on one of the games consoles or perhaps a game of air hockey and table football. It’s a place they can chill, hang out and make new friends.
Norwegian Jade is based out of Southampton in summer 2018 offering Northern Europe itineraries to Iceland, the Norwegian Fjords, Baltic and the British Isles. The ship will then head to the Mediterranean later in the year. In 2019, the smaller Norwegian Spirit will be based in the UK, offering similar itineraries. Call 0800 368 9059 to find out more about booking a Norwegian Cruise Line holiday, or find inspiration by searching below for the latest sailings and availability.